Primary school could make switch to integrated status

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The North Eastern Education and Library Board is to meet later this month to discuss the future of Mallusk Primary School.

Consultation has already taken place with governors, parents and staff on a proposal that the village school should amalgamate with Ballyhenry Primary in Glengormley. But another option now being considered is the possibility of Mallusk Primary becoming part of the integrated education sector.

Parents and others in the local community who are keen to see the school remain open have suggested a possible move to integrated status. And the Board has confirmed that their views, along with those relating to the proposed amalgamation, will be considered at its next meeting.

“Responses following from consultation, including views expressed by parents regarding integrated status for the school, are due for consideration by the Board in April,” a spokesperson for the NEELB told the Times. “Depending on the outcome of that Board meeting, this could result in a Development Proposal being published, opening a two-month public consultation process, at the end of which the Minister will have the final decision.”

The spokesperson confirmed that issues relating to the future of Mallusk Primary are due for discussion at the Board’s meeting on Tuesday, April 29.

South Antrim MLA Danny Kinahan, a member of the Education Committee at Stormont, is backing the campaign to keep the school open. And he believes that the area is the “ideal place” for a cross-community school.

“Mallusk is a growing mixed community which is cut off from Newtownabbey both as a community and by poor infrastructure. It is an ideal community in which to expand a cross-community school. We have a thriving community group and nursery after a great deal of hard work, and the group have built a strong identity where many other communities have failed,” the UUP man said.

“Sadly the Area Planning initiative and the amalgamation proposal has ignored the wishes of some of the parents and the community group.

“It is terrific news that the integrated sector is now looking and seems to be gaining ground with an idea for a new integrated primary school and it has my full support.

“Only recently the Minister asked for the views of the community, and this glimmer of hope has only been found after a very late battle and a great deal of effort. It needs every local politician to support it and all of us fighting together to achieve it,” he added.